Off Into The Infinite Universe...

Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends...
This is for everyone who has a strange fascination with loopy structures, paradoxes, science, quantum physics, the nature of duality, the internet, cyber culture, philosophy, and any one who has stayed up into the late hours contemplating infinities.If any of you have any contributions for posts, paradoxes, mathematical infinities, or anything that has loopy nature send it to

Support The Infinite Blog!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Art of The Recursive Acronym

Just a small update in between larger ones..

The computer world ( and the government) is filled to the brim with acronyms. SQL, RAID, SSD, ANSI, MAC, IP, BBS, RAM..the list goes on and on..I've gotten quite used to coming across acronyms, I'd dare say I've even become adept at attempting to remember them. I was thrown into a particularly loopy situation, recently when I was reading up on programming. I came across an acronym in which I've seen before, but never really knew what it stood for. PHP. (It turns out PHP is a set of turns and code to design web pages). Now PHP originally stood for "Personal Homepage" but sense has some how incorporated itself into its own acronym. The new meaning of PHP is "PHP Hypertext Preproccessors" The 'P' standing for PHP. So the acrconym has an acronym...which itself has an acronym.. going on forever...Now you see why this sparked some true to form, I dug a little deeper and found some others.

* Note*
I'm not entirely sure you'll find any of these entertaining in the slightest if you haven't seen them already.. but here goes.

VISA ( Credit card company) - "VISA International Services Association"

GNU - "GNU's Not Unix"

PINE (An older email service - "PINE is not elm"

MULTICS (a precurser to UNIX) - "Multic Information Computing Systems"

LINK (If you live in the UK you'll know this one) - "LINK Interchange NetworK"

BWIA (west indies airline compnay) - "BWIA West Indies Airways"

And finally we have :

TIARA: (the cleverest of all acronyms..) "TIARA IS A RECURSIVE ACRONYM"

Well that's all folks, a lot more exist but its much more fun to actually know the acronym before its explained. I just thought this endless loop of acronyms calling itself would be a great fit for the blog.  A quite poetic way of explaining this, is Douglas Hofstander, in the book "Godel, Escher, and Bach". A Genie explains that God stands for "God Over Djinn". Meaning that no matter how many types you look into God, it will always mean the same thing. You'll never be able to get past that.  Anyway if you do have any of your own, please post them!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Save to the Hard Drive for the Archive...

One of my favorite pieces of hardware, besides a landphone... is a Hard Drive. Why such a seemingly nondescript piece of equipment? I don't know, there's just something very cool, and interesting about the idea of a device that replicates memory. I mean the human brain, which itself is a pretty poor hard drive, pales in comparsion to harddrives today. While human memory and computer memory aren't seemingly comparable, I beg to differ. The thoughts and memories that we have as humans, are stored but in general this is a very loose storage system. Especially if an event wasn't very memorable. What happened on a random Sunday afternoon 3 years ago? Hell if I can remember... Human memory is much, it comes and goes, some of it sticking with us to the day we die, and others become chipped, faded, and disappear entirely. We humans are obviously also suseptable to diseases that destroy the lucidity of memory, leaving it fragmented, and useless.

Replacing the familiar Hard drive disk, is the newer, faster, and more coherent, Solid State Drive. Which instead of the spinning platters that HDD's are composed of, these SSD's are, as I'm sure most of you already know, computer chips. Like larger USB drives. While its nothing so groundbreaking, but this leap from the platteres to chips, is just another step, that I think brings us closer to a goal that would be truly awe inspiring. I've mentioned it before in this blog, but inventing the ability to store human memory onto these chips would be such an idea that if and when created, it would really change our world. Think about it, we could sell piano lessons, or go to the grocery store, and pick up a memory of last year's World Cup. Someone could witness, a murder, be able to download the memory onto a chip and replay it to the police. The possibilities are endless. Granted this may not be a good thing.. Instead of me going out and taking Taekwon do lessons, I can have them uploaded to my brain, while I sit on the couch...

Sound familiar? In the matrix movies, its characters often find themselves in need of a set of skills that they don't posses. Do from an uplink from their central system, they have instructions uploaded to this. And in a manner of seconds, they're professionals at whatever task needed doing. Now I'm not saying that we'll be able to download kung fu lessons just yet, if you look up a project called BrainGate, it explains why I brought this up. The idea that human memory can be recorded and later used and viewed isn't new but it hasn't been anything but, at best science fiction.  Think this idea would take off? Buying and selling experiences, and memories. You could program it to save the early years of your child hood, and you can play it back when your older and recall events that normally would have been lost to time. 

Human memory, ( a concept that I admittedly don't fully understand) is a very spread out and 'organic' process. When I was in grade school, my teachers would refer to memory as a big filing cabinet locked away in our cranium. But now, as my reading of the matter continues, it's come out that it doesn't work in such a 'solid state' sort of way. Many area's of the brain contribute to your remembering. If you think about a dog, you think of many different senses that make up what a dog is. Its feel, its sound, its shape, and form.

Anyway I hope this all made sense and gave you some reason to think about what the future of recording from experience, or RFE (I may be the first to coin this, so you heard it hear first folks) has to offer. I'm calling it, if anyone at there would be able to do something like this, I'd leave it to Google. They will launch GoogleLife  in the mid 2020's, in which google will allow you to use there servers to upload all your memories!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beyond Good and Evil?

Is Man Inherently Good or Inherently Evil? Do we naturally go out of our way to help our fellow man, or help ourselves?

About a year ago, I was enrolled in a Philosophy class at the college I attend. The class was very interactive by nature, which is probably the best way to conduct a philosophy class. We'd start class with a bizarre breathing exercise and then dive into topics that would involve the entire class. Going toward the end of the semester we had a major debate that was easily the most intense discussion I've ever had in a classroom. The topic was one such that hasn't and probably will never be solved. And the question is this: Are people born good natured or evil in nature? Meaning, would Stalin have grown up to be just as evil in heart if he had grown up in a different time period, or place? Is that good will inside of us, put there from the start? or is it society that shapes and changes us into the people that we are?

The first argument goes a something like this:

We are born with good intentions and pure qualities but learn evil as we grow.
The first and easiest argument to this is that people are made in God's image, so that makes us automatically good. While this makes sense, I'm in no way, shape or form, religious, so I'll pass on this argument for now.
Carl Rogers believed that people are innately good natured, and if left to their own devices would bond together, work together and act together to achieve common goals. This way of thinking suggest that cultural things like money, prejudice, and bad up bringing, leads to evil in the hearts of men. If all that was stripped away, and people where born and raised in tribal villages with very little amenities, society was advance far quicker than more advanced societies where so many factors in human emotions can hold it back.
Some examples is that people leave money for bums and vagrants that they don't know. People always are eager to help with problems, tipping waitresses, helping an older lady who fell, carrying your neighbors trash inside, the list goes on and on to what human beings do that is good in heart. 

We are born with evil intentions and malicious qualities but learn to be virtuous as we grow

Sigmund Freud believed that people are innately evil, selfish and can only be counted if it benefited them somehow. If it wasn't for society and the rules that govern us, our world was literally collapse. Rape, murder, and violence would reign and humanity would kill itself. More to the fact, is that we are born with the most basic, core instinct of self preservation. And that instinct will allow us to take from others if it benefits are needs to survive. Therefore we are born with a selfishness that could be conceived as being 'evil'. Without the framework of our laws, and norms, we'd revert back to our primal instincts in which we only look out for ourselves. The examples of this are blatant, dictatorships, serial killers, rapists, theft etc...

Of course the third argument to all of this, is that being born 'good' or 'bad' is all relative. If every single person who was born was evil then it wouldn't be bad to be evil, and we wouldn't be having this discussion! Same goes for being good. The terms good and evil, are something that humans made, and a baby can't be born with either really.

Your thoughts and opinions on the matter? Are we inherently good or evil?

PS. A great loopy picture I found on Deviant Art! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Preserving the Open Internet" The Battle Continues..

Yesterday was a big day in the world of Internet Service Providers. I'm assuming you guys may have heard of this. The F.C.C (Federal Communications Commission) is trying to pass a "net neutrality" bill that would in effect give the F.C.C (which is a government branch) the ability to regulate and monitor how companies, namely the ISP's, do business, and how they go about censoring information. Remember those internet information caps we talked about a few weeks back? It all could come to pass if the bill passes.  This whole manner can be a little confusing so lets break down the sides, and show whats really happening.

THE F.C.C - This is the party that wants to push the idea of Net Neutrality. They want to say "Hey Comcast you can't censor Surfthechannel, or the Verizon webpage! (Comcast and Verizon are competitors, so they could block you from seeing Verizon's rates!) The F.C.C would give comcast a slap on the wrist. The F.C.C's policy would also do away (maybe) with ISP's tiered internet service. So if you pay 49.99 and get 2mbps speed or if you pay 19.00 for 200 kbs speed, these would be eliminated, and everyone would have the same speed, for a flat rate. This would also probably tell AT&T to rethink their data limit caps.

The Democrats - Most dems are on the side of the F.C.C. Favoring a bigger government intervention. Most feel that the internet is a utility just like water, electricity, and gas, and needs some sort of regulations so its power isn't abused by bigger companies.

The Republicans - Most Reps are on the side of the ISP's in stating that they reserve the right to set costs, and let the buyers select how much they want. Just as you go into a restaurant, you can order a small, or a large. They feel that the internet should remain open, free, and free of government interference.

The ISP's - Verizon, and Comcast are most obviously against this sort of regulation. They want to be able to regulate and direct internet traffic. They want to be able to set their own prices, and tiers, and that's something that the F.C.C wants to control

The Information Providers - The Googles, Amazons, NBC's, and Fox's- They are worried that if the F.C.C gets on a hand on control, that censorship would cause reduced viewing, and less traffic, which is how they get their money.  Think upon this, Comcast which owns NBC could block all access to sites displaying NBC shows, or other competitors.

So this all adds up to finger pointing name calling and lots of accusations about the other party. Yesterday though, the decision was made that the House rejected the proposition of "Net Neutrality". Which means for now, this bill is shot down. Another chance is available to push this through the Senate though, so the battle isn't over. Quite torn, I am between this matter. This all ccomes on the heels of the FCC's demand that AT&T and VERIZON, must share their cell networks with smaller mobile companies, to encourage competition. I'm not quite sure what smaller companies even exist, but whoever they are, now have a piggy back on the two largest mobile communications networks in the world.  Anyway I hope this helps break down whats going on.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Death of Blockbuster

Let me preface this by saying, I haven't posted anything in a while, I know, been busy, but I hope to get back to my twice a week postings, soon!
      We've been discussing a lot of things dying haven't we? Death of newspaper, movie characters, and now we wait by the hospital bed of another dear friend. The idea of hoping into your car on a friday night with your girlfriend, and a few buddies, and driving out to a video store, browsing through walls of dusty and faded VHS, and  slick and hallow DVD cases is now a feeling that most don't really experience.

     The last time I was in a video rental store? Years. I'd often go with my parents all the while looking up and down the aisles, even trying to catch a glimpse into the forbidden 18+ section. I'd usually find myself wandering into the section where they kept the video games, looking through the big bin of Super Nintendo games. On the way home I'd eagerly hold the new treasure waiting to make popcorn and load it into the 'ol VCR. I miss that nice feeling of sliding a thick cassette into the waiting mouth of the VCR. Accepted easily, you hear that audible click and hum of the heads turning to mean the black tape. Anyway, the blockbuster near my house is going under and its old rival "Palmer Video" has long been finished. (though incidently, a small Palmer Video still exists in my long do you have my friend??)
      Things like Ondemand, and Netflix have been the knife in the guts of video rental stores, and not to say that I don't like these options.. Hell, I have and use OnDemand. (though I despise Comcast) Blockbuster made its last stand last year by offering streaming movies through the HTC phone. Too little, too late?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Social Engineering

Has anyone ever heard of this? Or more over has anyone heard of Kevin Mitnick? For those who had their ear to the techie/hacker ground in the mid 90's, you may remember him. Kevin Mitnick was a computer hacker/cracker but more accurately, he was a master of the technique called "Social Engineering". He had charisma about him that allowed people he spoke to to trust him and even let him in on information that he wasn't supposed to be privy to. These conversations would generally take place over phone lines. He may call up a bank branch, and pretend to be someone from payroll, telling one of the tellers that if they didn't reveal their certain employee number, they wouldn't be able to recieve their paycheck. Then, once he gained this info, he may politely hang up and call another branch of the bank. This time switching hats, and becoming a fellow bank employee who's need's a customers files brought up, including debit card information, account numbers, balance etc..

As Mitnick said: You can have the best internet security software on the planet. The most expensive forensic team, and a host of gadgets to protect you from break ins, but all this will completely fail, as long as human error still exists. The human being, or the 'wetware' is the weak link in the chain of security. A human being is easily fooled, decieved, and can give away such valuable information.

This is just one example in thousands that could be done to gain sensitive information. Now one could easily just repute this and say its not 'social engineering', its just plain lying and stealing. I do agree with that, if you plan on keeping and using said information for nefarious purposes. I see nothing wrong with using this information to see how much information you can get out of someone.

To paraphrase Mitnick; People are very trusting, and generally want to be as helpful to you as possible. Especially if you call a help or service desk. They literally get back to bend over backwards for you. Now you don't want to aim to get the person their fired, or in any trouble, so don't ask them to reveal secrets that could cost them they're job. But just prodding around and asking for things that a normal person shouldn't know, I don't see anything wrong with that. Again, if you use this information for your own gain, then yes, you are thief. Mitnick unfortunately went to this extreme, and defrauded many companies of money, and was eventually caught, but the idea of Social Engineering, is one that I think is viable and is fun to practice.

If you go on Youtube, there is a video under Social Engineering, where these two idiots, drive into Mcdonalds, and "Socially Engineer" the manager into getting free food. Stuff like that isn't Social Engineering, its blatent lying to get free food that costs 3.99. This sort of thing should be done for sport, fun, and like hacking, just to find out how much you can find out..

Has anyone done their own Social Engineering? Stories to share?